FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013
Passing “HB 2261” was about a vision for kids. Will it survive?
Bills this session could either advance or undermine Washington State PTA’s goal of redefining basic education to give every child a strong foundation. Early bills looked at walking away from full-day kindergarten, extra science and arts, and pulling 24 credits out of the definition of basic education. Other bills took on discipline issues, opportunity gaps around communication and cultural competence, and dropout prevention, intervention and re-engagement. And rumor is a mystery “big bill” is in play in the Senate. But there has been no hearing. We’ll know this weekend what’s still in play.
So what was the grand push for, back in 2009, when education advocates swept into Olympia and rallied to pass the funding reform bill, ESHB 2261?
Smaller K-3 class sizes and full-day kindergarten were certainly part of the equation. But more fundamentally, 2009’s Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261 was about implementing a K-12 structure and supports to ensure all children have the opportunity to meet rigorous learning standards, and all children graduate having completed a course of study that aligns to their personal goals and prepares them for career or college.
Students need a solid foundation. They need attention and support. They need adequate instructional time. They need a variety of courses to prepare them for life after high school. Students are diverse – culturally, linguistically, economically and developmentally. Our system of schools needs to accommodate all of this.
Our motivating concern in 2009 was that while educational excellence could certainly be found, it was not systemic and it was not financed in a stable and equitable manner. Fundamentally, what the state allocated for did not align with what our educators and schools needed or were trying to do. Some of our children struggled to achieve, and had for decades. In some cases they started behind and stayed behind. In others, they didn’t receive the supports promised and needed.
Other kids did fine, but only with thousands of volunteer hours donated to their schools, and in some cases hundreds of thousands in cash, annually.
We wanted to fix that.
Government relations coordinator
Washington State PTA